Firefighting aircraft strained by longer fire seasons |

Firefighting aircraft strained by longer fire seasons

Longer, more intense fire seasons are making for more work for aerial firefighters contracted around the country.

The U.S. Forest Service and other firefighting agencies contract with private flyers during fire seasons to operate airplanes and helicopters used to respond to blazes cropping up around the country. But as fire seasons start earlier and end later, those companies are asked to do more work to keep up.

“Across the Sierra we’ve had early high fire indexes ” that means high temperatures, low humidity, low fuel moisture ” a few weeks ago it was as high as mid-June of last year,” said Rex Norman, spokesman for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

While typical contracts run from mid-June or early July to the end of September, the Forest Service can call on their contractors to come early, paid the same as when they are under contract, said Staci Dickson, helicopter superintendent for the U.S. Forest Service.

“Extending pre-season, and post-season, is becoming more common,” Dickson said.

” Read the entire story in Thursday’s Sierra Sun

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